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Retailers forecast strong holiday, show hiring restraint

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Philadelphia — According to a survey released Tuesday by global management consultancy Hay Group, 68% of retailers expect holiday sales to increase this year. However, hiring plans remain conservative, with 67% of retailers hiring at the same level as last year and 25% hiring fewer seasonal workers.

“Retailers have a tempered optimism about the holidays this year. Cost inflation has made profitability more elusive, and retailers are trimming the fat with staffing and store hours,” said Craig Rowley, VP and global practice leader for Hay Group’s retail practice.

The double digit growth in e-commerce sales this year is also influencing hiring levels. Nineteen percent of retailers say they will hire fewer seasonal staffers in stores this year due to the increase in their online sales. This decline may be offset by the 19% that say they will hire more seasonal workers in distribution centers to support the uptick in online orders.

Hay Group’s survey, in its fifth year, analyzed responses from 21 major U.S. retailers including Charlotte Russe, Coldwater Creek, DSW, Macy’s, Michael’s Stores and Pier 1 Imports.

Other report highlights included an uptick in permanent workers, as 19% said they are hiring fewer seasonal and more permanent workers this season. Pay rates for seasonal workers are largely even with 2010, but 19% plan a modest uptick of $.05 – $.30. Still, 48% note that they pay seasonal workers less than permanent workers in the same position, compared with 25% last year.

Discounting may not be as rampant in holiday 2011. An overwhelming majority say they are not planning to offer deeper discounts on Black Friday (89%) or Cyber Monday (94%) this year. The timing for discounting also continues to be spread throughout the season. While 78% say the timing for holiday promotions will remain consistent with 2010, 22% say they will begin earlier this year. A majority (63%) plan to start promotions in November, but some early birds plan to begin in October (13%), September (6%) and even August (6%).

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Kodak celebrates 100 million cameras sold with HSN deal

BY CSA STAFF

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Eastman Kodak Company announced that it had entered into an exclusive offering with HSN to sell the Kodak Easyshare Touch M5370 Digital Camera on Sept. 4 to celebrate 100 Million cameras sold over the last fifteen years. The camera was available at a special price on HSN for $149.95 including free shipping through Sunday, Sept. 4.

The enhanced Easyshare Touch Camera features a 16 MP sensor and 720p HD video. Sharing photos is easy with Kodak’s innovative and exclusive Share Button while the responsive touch screen makes gliding through pictures effortless. Once connected to a PC, pre-tagged photos will automatically upload to sites like Facebook and Kodak Gallery or can be emailed.

"The partnership with HSN is a natural fit for us to launch our new EASYSHARE TOUCH Camera and we are excited to give customers an exclusive opportunity to purchase it before anyone else. HSN customers expect a great product from a brand they trust, at the right price," said Phil Scott, VP marketing digital capture and accessories for Kodak. "This camera has a completely new compact and clean design with an intuitive touch screen and added features that make it simple to share your photos to your favorite social networking sites or email addresses with the Share Button."

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Motorola unveils waterproof two-way radios

BY CSA STAFF

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — Motorola Solutions announced that it has introduced its first waterproof Talkabout branded two-way radios. The MS350R series of two-way radios are designed for use during storm season, as well as for hunters and serious outdoor enthusiasts.

The Motorola Talkabout MS350R radios are the first FRS/GMRS two-way radios to feature both a waterproof design and access to eight built-in GMRS repeater channels. The MS350R radios are designed to float and will rise to the top of any water body and can be spotted easily with their bright yellow housing, the company reposted.

The MS350R radio series boasts a variety of safety features to keep families connected and prepared for severe weather and unexpected emergencies, the company reported. In the event of an approaching storm, everyone can stay informed of changing weather conditions with access to seven National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and four Environment Canada (EC) weather channels, which provide continuous broadcasts of local and regional weather updates.(2) And, in the event of a power outage or when cell phone towers are down, two-way radios keep everyone in touch and in constant communication. There is also a built-in LED flashlight for nighttime convenience.

Convenient Features Provide Flexibility in the Outdoors

Serious sports enthusiasts and hunters alike will appreciate the convenient features the MS350R radios offer, including Motorola’s Push-to-Talk (PTT) power boost option. When activated, this feature can extend the transmission range by increasing the transmitter power output – while helping to save battery life when no power boost is necessary. The iVOX speech activated feature allows for convenient hands-free communication without removing the radio from the belt clip. Hunters can easily stay connected to the group without disturbing game by activating the VibraCall function, which silently alerts them to incoming transmissions by vibrating.

Now available, the Motorola Talkabout MS350R radios have an MSRP of $99.99 per pair, which includes two radios, two belt clips, one dual charger, one charging adapter, two NiMH rechargeable battery packs and an emergency preparedness checklist sheet. It is available in yellow.

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